2021 NRL Round 25 Preview, Eels Vs Panthers

Nathan Smith previews the Parramatta Eels up against the Penrith Panthers. This is what we have to look forward to.

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Venue: Cbus Super Stadium, Gold Coast, Date: Friday, 3rd of September, Time: 8:05pm

Parramatta Eels Team

1. Hayze Perham
2. Haze Dunster
3. Tom Opacic
4. Michael Oldfield
5. Blake Ferguson
6. Will Smith
7. Jake Arthur
8. Oregon Kaufusi
9. Joey Lussick
10. Makahesi Makatoa
11. Bryce Cartwright
12. Keegan Hipgrave
13. Ray Stone
14. Samuel Loizou
15. Ky Rodwell
16. Shaun Lane
17. Sean Russell
18. Will Penisini
19. Isaiah Papali’i
20. Nathan Brown
21. Dylan Brown

Team Changes

IN: Hayze Perham, Jake Arthur, Ky Rodwell, Michael Oldfield, Samuel Loizou, Sean Russell, Tom Opacic, Will Smith
OUT: Clinton Gutherson, Junior Paulo, Marata Niukore, Mitchell Moses, Waqa Blake

Referee: Adam Gee


Parramatta Eels

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The Parramatta Eels defeated the Melbourne Storm for the second time this year, and in doing so, ended their opportunity to become the first team to achieve 20 straight wins in a regular season. After a rocky few weeks that has seen them lose convincinly against a few competition heavyweights, this win was just what they needed to signal their ability on the eve of the 2021 finals series.

Where does one start with this week’s line up? In short, Arthur is resting his stars for the finals. That sees a huge shuffle to the line up, with younger players coming in to get some game time in (many lacking much of it due to the cancellation of reserve grade rugby league in NSW). Three players will make their Eels debut (Hayze Perham, Samuel Loizou, and Ky Rodwell) and Will Smith will captain the side.

Penrith Panthers

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The Penrith Panthers continued their winning ways with a 30-16 victory over the Wests Tigers. Tied equal first with the Melbourne Storm on 42 points, they are still a chance at snagging the minor premiership (though, a small chance, with a Melbourne loss required). Regardless, they are hitting the right notes as a team leading into the finals, and have perhaps paced themselves better leading into this years’ finals series than they had in 2020.

There’s been little change to Penrith’s team. Spencer Leniu has been named as 18th man is a chance to play, however, they are otherwise just about back to full strength after missing a few key players over the past month.


This match features a team of youngsters and fringe footy players up against a full strength premiership force. Indeed, on paper, the sides are drastically mismatched, and this will probably be reflected in that match itself.

For the Eels, a victory is highly unlikely, and unecessary, with last week’s victory seemingly the signpost for coach Brad Arthur that things were never as bad as they appeared. His decision to rest his stars means that he’s comfortable with finishing 5th or 6th and wants the big guns ready for week one of the finals. So what should Parramatta Eels fans be looking for in this match? For one, the future of the club is on display with the likes of Hayze Perham, Samuel Loizou and Ky Rodwell all making their debuts for the club. These are the players that will be pressuring the top side for positions in coming years. Jake Arthur gets another crack a first grade, which will only be a positive thing for his development as an elite half. The forward pack is perhaps the most exciting aspect, given it features a mix of blokes that have never given up on their dream of an NRL game (Makahesi Makatoa), those on their final chance at making a career out of the NRL (Bryce Cartwright), and otherwise, players that have struggled for game time in the starting team this year. They will be hungry and ready to dig in.

Penrith? Well, they’ve just about announced the 2020 grand finalists for this one. With the likes of Nathan Cleary, Brian To’o and James Fisher-Harris back, this match will be an opportunity to get a bit more match fitness into their legs before the finals series begins. With strike power across the park, they should find points easy and fast to come by against a largely untested Eels team. Ivan Cleary may very well opt to give some of the players an early rest during this one. Panthers fans will know before kick-off whether a second straight minor premiershp is possible, with the match between the Melbourne Storm and Cronulla Sharks set to take place beforehand. Should the Sharks upset the Storm (which is a possibility given they need to win to absolutely confirm their spot in 8th place), Penrith fans will have plenty more to get excited for in this one.


The head to head between both sides is relatively close, with the Eels holding slightly more wins over their western Sydney rivals (58 of their 101 games). They’ve played once this year, with the Panthers winning by one point after a dramatic ending that saw the Eels miss out on victory through a missed conversion. In 2020, they played twice, with both sides winning one each.


This one is pretty clear cut. Parramatta’s side is far too inexperienced to have any realistic chance of winning, and perhaps, their victories will be measured in the individual performances of the players rather than the overall result. For Penrith, this will probably resemble a training run and they should be winning very comfortably.

Panthers by 30


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Comments (1)

  1. Avatar
    Jackson Yoane

    Go Eels

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